Say earthquake and most Americans think California. But the Northwest is one of the most seismically active regions in the world and has a history of strong quakes. Nearly 17,000 earthquakes of magnitude 1.0 to 6.0 have occurred in Oregon and Washington since 1970. About 15 to 20 quakes a year strike the Northwest. People can generally feel earthquakes when they are a magnitude of 3.0 or higher. If you’re an Oregon resident, you should consider getting earthquake insurance to protect your home and belongings. Before you search for insurance quotes, however, there are several factors to keep in mind.
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Oregon Earthquake History
These earthquake facts are available from the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Studies:
- March 25, 1993: A magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck at Scotts Mills, southeast of Portland, causing $30 million in damage. The quake damaged Molalla High School, a Mount Angel church and the Capitol rotunda in Salem. This remains the most destructive quake in terms of property loss in OR history.
- July 12, 1991: A magnitude 6.6 earthquake occurred 70 miles off the OR coast.
- Feb. 13, 1981: A magnitude 5.5 earthquake near Mount St. Helens in southwestern Washington shook the Portland area.
What Is Earthquake Insurance?
Earthquake insurance is extra insurance typically purchased as a rider to a homeowners or business insurance policy. These policies typically do not include earthquake coverage as part of their standard coverage, so if an earthquake destroys your home or business and you don't have an earthquake insurance endorsement, you will not be able to collect compensation. Not all home and business insurance providers offer earthquake insurance coverage as an option, so if you are interested in purchasing this coverage, you may have to switch providers in order to obtain it.
Be aware that earthquake insurance coverage usually comes with a very high deductible. This coverage is extremely useful if a quake destroys your home but may not be helpful if a quake merely shakes some decorations off your walls.
Why Is Earthquake Insurance Important in Oregon?
Without an earthquake endorsement, your standard homeowners policy will not cover any damage caused by seismic events. If the next big quake to strike the Oregon area levels your home, only the protection of an earthquake insurance rider can help you rebuild.
The same fault line that causes quakes in California rests below Oregon. The Cascadia subduction zone, also referred to as the Cascadia fault, is a convergent plate boundary that stretches from northern Vancouver Island to northern California. It is a very long sloping subduction zone fault separating the Juan de Fuca and North America plates. The same tectonic forces at work shaking the West Coast affect Oregon residents as well.
How Does Earthquake Insurance Work?
The deductible for an earthquake insurance endorsement is different from that of your standard policy's deductible. You can typically choose a dollar amount for the deductible on your homeowners insurance. The deductible for your earthquake endorsement is usually set at a percentage of the value of your home, however. This makes these deductibles generally much higher than your standard coverage deductibles.
Earthquake coverage typically covers personal contents to a set dollar amount, such as $5,000. To some degree, that's logical. An earthquake will not typically destroy your sofas and beds, as would be the case in a fire. However, if your big screen television and computers are broken in a quake, the coverage is unlikely to reimburse you for the damage unless you opt for increased contents coverage.
What Is Excluded from Earthquake Coverage?
Every policy excludes some items from coverage. Policies also set specific limits on how much reimbursement the homeowner can receive for the loss of certain items. For instance, a typical homeowners policy will only cover jewelry and furs to $1,000, firearms to $2,000 and silverware to $2,500. If you have expensive furs or home office equipment, you would need a separate rider in order to get adequate coverage.
With quake coverage, there are additional exclusions. For instance, the typical quake policy does not cover the loss of landscaping, pools, fences and separate structures (including garages) and is likely to exclude claims for broken chandeliers, crystal and china.
What Will Your Earthquake Insurance Quotes Look Like?
Quotes for earthquake insurance vary considerably. Major factors that may affect your expected premium quotes include the risk for earthquake in your area and the total amount of personal belongings and property value you want to cover. Other factors that may affect your annual fees include the level of deductible and type of housing construction. In general, houses made of wood cost less to insure than houses made of brick. This is because wood structures tend to stand up better against earthquakes.
Where To Find Earthquake Insurance in Oregon
Knowledgeable, independent insurance agents in the Trusted Choice® network are always available to answer your questions, suggest coverage options and even assist you in filing a claim. These experienced agents can find you a number of earthquake insurance quotes from a variety of Oregon providers, ensuring the policy you buy offers the best protection at the most affordable rates.
Contact a Trusted Choice member agent near you to find out how you can obtain the perfect earthquake insurance policy that meets your needs and budget.